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Hergé's depiction of Africans etc.

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Jeeves
Member
#11 · Posted: 11 Apr 2008 01:49
I definately think that Herges portrayals are based more on ignorance than hate, it was just the attitudes of the time. I also agree that the P.C. thing has gotten out of hand
Triskeliae
Member
#12 · Posted: 11 Apr 2008 01:55
tybaltstone wrote:
Alan Thompson losing a black crew-man, and gaining a Puerto Rican

I'm a Puerto Rican. I've read the books. I haven't read that the character was a Puerto Rican. But, hey! If that's how it was, that wouldn't shock me.
Balthazar
Moderator
#13 · Posted: 11 Apr 2008 16:22 · Edited by: Balthazar
I think you've slightly missed the point of Tybaltsone's post regarding that particular change of a character's race, Triskeliae. That black character wasn't changed to a Puerto Rican because of a politically correct concern that the black crew-man had been drawn in a derogatory way, or that a black man was being cast as a baddie. He was changed entirely for entirely opposite, entirely racist reasons - because it was felt that segragationist readers in parts of the US wouldn't want to see a black character sharing a frame with a white character. Presumeably, according to the bizarre reasoning of the segragationist laws, Puerto Ricans, being of more European descent, were allowed to share comic-strip frames with white characters (not to mention jobs, housing, bus seats, washrooms, elevators, university places etc.), in the way that black people weren't.

So no one's suggesting that you'd be likely to be shocked by Hergé's portrayal of a Puerto Rican or that, in this case at least, a black reader would be especially offended by Herge's portrayal of the original black character in the original version of this book. In this case, it's the removal of the black character from the book that most people find shocking.

Or have I totally misunderstood the point you were making? Sorry if I have.

Anyway, although I think you've picked the wrong example, I take your general point that different nationalities and ethnic groups may take different levels of offence at how they're caricatured by Hergé. I guess that's often a question of the severity of the caricature, the accuracy/inaccuracy of the caricature, and the history of racial abuse that goes with the particular stereotype being drawn.
Dupondt
Member
#14 · Posted: 11 Apr 2008 23:20
Sure just look at other artists depictions, for example Uderzo, the chap in the crows nest on the ship seems even more exaggerated thanHerges drawings, and alot of them were drawn in the 60's and 70's running up to last year, although I'm not sure the pirates were in the most recent Asterix, I only read it once, it was terrible.
cigars of the beeper
Member
#15 · Posted: 11 Apr 2008 23:40
I think that when you draw comics you need to exxagerate people a little bit, so that people will be able to tell where your characters are from, but I think that Herge's early depictions of blacks are a bit over the top.
Triskeliae
Member
#16 · Posted: 12 Apr 2008 03:25
Balthazar wrote:
So no one's suggesting that you'd be likely to be shocked by Hergé's portrayal of a Puerto Rican

No, I don't acuse Herge. But in the US, for years, the portrayal of Puerto Ricans in films, Etc. have been of bad guys. And there's the thing: Puerto Ricans come in all colors and shapes. There are black Puerto Ricans, white, in-between...

But I'm not suggesting Herge is racist. I admire the man! He comes from a colonialist country,though. And what he wrote in ' Congo' when he was young was he was taught. He never was happy with this story.
Balthazar
Moderator
#17 · Posted: 12 Apr 2008 11:03
Triskeliae wrote:
But in the US, for years, the portrayal of Puerto Ricans in films, Etc. have been of bad guys.


I take your point. Sorry that I wasn't quite getting the main point of your previous post. You're right that Hollywood studios and others often stereotype Puerto Ricans in that way and it must be annoying, even if you don't especially blame Hergé in this instance.


Triskeliae wrote:
And there's the thing: Puerto Ricans come in all colors and shapes. There are black Puerto Ricans, white, in-between...


Yeah, you're right to point out that Puerto Rican is a nationality, not an ethnic definition. We don't actually know that the original black crew-man wasn't Puerto Rican anyway, nor that his more latin-looking replacement actually is Puerto Rican.

I guess Hergé was just trying to give Alan a crew of mixed nationality and ethnicity, in both versions of the book, and presumeably the possibly-Puerto Rican replacement was as dark-skinned as the US publishers would allow him to go in achieving this. You could argue that Alan's mixed crew follows another lazy stereotype, whereby a mixed crew would be shorthand for illegitimate and criminal activity. But you could argue that the mixed crew was simply realistic (given this is an international gang), or even more inclusive (which is what the US publishers objected to). Alan may be a deeply evil man, but at least he practices an equal opportunities policy when it comes to employing henchmen!

The Tintin books do have a quite a lot of foriegn and non-white baddies, but to be fair to Hergé, they have a lot of foreign and non-white goodies as well, and loads of white baddies. Like you, I don't think Hergé was a racist, but I guess like many Europeans of his era, he was somewhat out of his depth on understanding real racial equality. Even when he draws black Africans as goodies, in both Congo and Red Sea Sharks, he patronises them. Personally, I find the portrayal of black Africans in Red Sea Sharks more patronising than in Congo, given it was written in the late 50s when Hergé might have known better.
Triskeliae
Member
#18 · Posted: 12 Apr 2008 22:19
Balthazar wrote:
Personally, I find the portrayal of black Africans in Red Sea Sharks more patronising than in Congo, given it was written in the late 50s when Hergé might have known better.


You're so right!
But when one's immersed in a colonialist environment, some things are very hard to perceive as patronising. I could see Herge tried his best, but couldn't get out of it. To me, he tried so hard not to patronize in the Red Sea Sharks, that the results got worse.

He's human, after all.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#19 · Posted: 12 Apr 2008 23:58
I've had the pleasure of doing some occasional research for the Cartoon Museum in London for various exhibitions over the last couple of years and I've been able to look at a lot of political and satirical cartoons, as well as comics and strips from all eras. I can guarantee that if you happen to look through a random edition of Punch from the 1980s you'd find the most extreme cultural stereotypes. They are everywhere; in all eras and in most artist's works.

Kids in Britain didn't escape them because British comics were full of them too, usually based around someone about to be eaten by a horde of cannibals in grass skirts. Just the other day I was looking through the Dandy from 1974 (by the way, look out for the Dandy/Beano 70th anniversary events in the Cartoon Museum this year!) and there were quite a lot of offensive jokes and strips within it which centred around racial stereotypes. Indeed, cultural stereotypes and racism still exist in cartoons and comics, it depends where you look, not to mention what your own cultural standards are.

I think when you compare Hergé's depiction of Africans to those made by other comic artists and cartoonists within the era he worked, he stands up pretty well. You even could say he was fairly 'enlightened' by the time of Red Sea Sharks (certainly not by today's standards, but by the standards of the time).

One scene in the Red Sea Sharks which I've always liked is where Ben Kalish Ezab first tells Tintin about the slave trade (whilst being served by his black servant.) When Tintin says "But that's frightful!" Ben Kalish replies "Er.. Yes.. But to get back to Arabair..." I think maybe Hergé was trying to say that the 'good guys' aren't always that clear cut.

The Haddock/"Coke" argument was, I believe, meant for comic effect, but unfortunately, as has been said here, the results are pretty embarrassing! The scene where the slave trader comes aboard and Haddock gives him an ear-bashing is great though! Haddock's anger in that scene is probably where Hergé should have left it.
Jeeves
Member
#20 · Posted: 13 Apr 2008 01:13
Harrock n roll wrote:
The Haddock/"Coke" argument was, I believe, meant for comic effect, but unfortunately, as has been said here, the results are pretty embarrassing!

I know!

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